On September 6, the government-owned and funded 1 News broadcasted to the public in response to the ISIS-inspired Lynn mall attack. In this broadcast, they emphasise that we should focus on the “extremists we can’t deport”, and on the importance to “intervene early on, as soon as people are showing problematic signs”. And as to what these “problematic signs” may include, they state that “any extremist, whether it’s around disinformation, right-wing extremism, conspiracy theories, what they all have in common is that they don’t trust the state.”
This sentiment being fed to the public is carefully chosen to reinforce the connection between all political dissidence, particularly from the Right, to terror attacks committed in the name of ISIS. This is completely nonsensical; namely because ISIS, or ISIL, exists in opposition to the traditional Right and rather exists under the wing of a neoconservative (AKA Trotskyist) agenda.
However, it doesn’t matter to them that this logic is backwards, for it’s all they needed for their lead-up to the reveal of the Government’s new ‘intervention scheme’, one which should solve the loophole of “problematic signs” not being acted on. Their wording is an immediate red flag as, if this scheme does what a government-owned entity claims it will do, it will give this government enough power to criminalise any political dissent against the state.
Perhaps, however, this is a massive stretch, and this broadcast was merely overplaying it; maybe it doesn’t really do all that it’s claimed to do. Either way, we can’t know until we look into what exactly this scheme is; which begs the question: what is this so-called intervention scheme?
Well, a number of new bills have just passed their select house committee reading after being rushed through by the government, among them is a Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill and an objectionable publication Bill.
Let’s start with the former. The key law changes in the counter-terrorism bill are that any plans or “other preparations” for an act of terror will be criminalised with a penalty of up to 7 years imprisonment. Extra enforcement powers give the constable if he has “reasonable grounds” to suspect you of preparations, the power to search your house, your car, your devices and your person without needing a warrant.
And what constitutes these so-called “reasonable grounds”? Well, as this is a legally vague, subjective term; its use would be entirely up to the constable.
As for your rights, you can only apply for judicial review well after any search. A review that doesn’t shine any spotlight on the constable, so he can rest assured knowing that, after a long day of targeting political dissidents with no-evidence/suspicion searches, he will have no chance of facing any legal repercussions.
But you shouldn’t have to fear, as long as there’s no evidence for terror attack preparations, you should be safe, right? Well, that’s where the films and publications legislation comes in.
Current objectionable material legislation criminalises possession of any material, such as any film, book, recording, or internet file deemed to be objectionable material. Material liable to this includes anything that demeans/offends anyone, as well as anything that implies that someone, based on their race, sexuality, religious, political and even “ethical” beliefs, is inferior. Now, holding material implying that certain politicians are inferior is something which I’m sure every single semi-political New Zealander is guilty of. Not only that, but you won’t have any security in what the constable deems to be objectionable, as its classification again depends on the constables own judgement, leaving an ambiguous hole in the legislation. A judgement that also leaves the constable completely immune to any legal repercussions should it be proven unjust.
So, if such a constable finds such material on you during his warrantless search, he may seize it, and, when such judgement finds you guilty, give you up to a $50,000 fine, or a prison term up to 10 years!
Locking up political dissidents at will is an absolutely ludicrous act of tyrannical state power, one which is very nearly within the reach of Jacinda Ardern’s government. However, it doesn’t stop there. If you are one of the dissidents who deleted all of their files, articles, and memes that could be construed as any of the abovementioned offences, these laws still have other ways of interfering with your life. You can expect to lose access to all of your favourite political wrong-think websites as they start, one by one, to be taken down by an inspector, or a classification office, with the powers being introduced by the new films and publications bill.
This bill is what Jacinda Ardern is using as a means of targeting “online radicalisation” at its source. It will essentially grant a constable or other inspector, under immunity, the ability to create a permanent take-down request under “reasonable grounds” (that term again) that the online publication is objectionable.
An appeal to such an offence may only be made to a classification office, the members of which are also all immune to any liability in their decision. And the court which prosecutes citizens if the content host refuses to adhere to this? Well, they aren’t even allowed to examine the merits of the notice, even if it’s absurd!
What the courts will do is decide the penalty that the content host must pay, depending not on the host’s innocence but rather on what extent he refused the request. This penalty can reach as high as $200,000, and that’s just for one take-down request.
So, if you happen to run a website, blog or another website with which you publish material that could be seen as “demeaning” to politicians or otherwise contemptible people, you should be extremely concerned about this bill, as it will essentially outlaw all of your writings.
This, for all intents and purposes, criminalises getting on the wrong side of individual constables, committees, and the small but vocal cancel culture mobs. This is because, when everything is illegal, only those petty few, those “perpetually offended” as ACT’s David Seymour calls them, will have the power to make decisions about what is and what is not banned. Allowing these bills to pass will accelerate the establishment in its quest to fulfil a seemingly complete and utter anarcho-tyranny in New Zealand.